There is an insidious and unspoken connection between our gun culture at home and abroad. U.S. politicians and pundits believe that huge defense budgets provide international security for the United States, and many Americans believe that personal weapons provide safety at home. We don’t question the use of deadly weaponry in unnecessary wars overseas; Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the most recent examples. At home, there are more guns than people — 120 guns for every 100 people. The United States is exceptional because some of the same weapons designed for war are available to teenagers fighting their personal demons.
Every day we gather evidence of the pathetic performance of the Russian military in Ukraine. There was the inability to deal with Ukraine’s primitive air defense; the loss of the flag ship of the Black Sea Fleet; the sadistic behavior of a ground force that lacks any sense of discipline or professionalism; the loss of general officers; and the near total breakdown in logistical support for the invasion force. The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Major General Bulanov, dismissed the Russian invasion force as a “horde of people with weapons.”
Russian history is largely the history of war, as Russia found itself engaged in military confrontation between the 13th and 20th centuries. For most of its history, Russia anticipated confrontation on its long border with China in the East; with the legacy of the Mongols on its “sensitive southern frontier,” and with the Western invaders—Napoleon and Hitler. Putin and his ilk come by their paranoia, xenophobia, and siege mentality quite naturally.
York Times’s international affairs columnist Thomas Friedman is arguably the most influential editorial writer in the country. Last week, his editorial aptly warned the Biden administration of the “huge unintended consequences” of its unplanned and impromptu remarks regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and the savagery of his tactics in Ukraine. Friedman reprised the World War II slogan, “Loose lips sink ships.”